35 West Main Street, Wilmington, VT
I never imaged I’d find myself standing in a yurt full of books tucked behind the row of shops on Main Street when I started out for Wilmington, but that’s sure where I ended up. It wasn’t the only surprise of the day, either, and I’m glad I made it back after skipping this used shop when I was last in town to review Bartleby’s Books. If only for the drive out, Wilmington has certainly proven to be a cute destination spot for bookhunters and antique shoppers alike.
Wilmington is set smack in the middle of southern Vermont between Bennington and Brattleboro, and if you’re coming from Bennington like I was, you’ll see this shop on your left before you get to the center of town. There are a few other antique shops nearby, but if you go on the weekend (the only time this shop is open), you’ll see their door propped open to let the summer breeze inside, along with a few stacks of books outside to give you a taste of what waits within.
The first room was an amusing slap-dash collection of books, records, and all manner of kitch and camp, with mannequins, advertisements, and stoplights that made the shop extremely unique, like stepping into something you’d find on the American Pickers TV show. The book collection itself is pretty extensive and often skews toward older editions. This can be a good thing if you’re looking for classic mysteries and pulps, hard-to-find hardcovers, or rare editions that are no longer in print. It’s the sort of shop where a book finds you, not the other way around.
Room by room, there were all kinds of fiction and nonfiction of almost every stripe, with sci-fi and mystery, poetry and essays, literary classics, history, feminism, pulp, plays, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, adventure and outdoors, gardening and hiking, science and reference, cooking and design, on and on. Exploring the shop is like exploring a house full of books and trinkets, and each room is totally different from the last. There were more rooms upstairs where you’ll find yourself skirting around a kitchen and living room set-up where fiction and non are side by side.
The shopkeeper was very polite and eager to show us around, and she even guided us out to a large yurt where she kept her overstock, letting us browse around in there alone for a bit. It was a bit warm seeing as it was the peak of summer, so we didn’t stay long, but if only for the story, it was worth stepping inside and scanning the stacks back there.
We checked out at the front desk with an assortment of records and books, though we left behind a few we wanted. There were great deals but also some items that felt a bit out of our range compared to prices we saw elsewhere. Still, the eclectic collection was interesting, and if you pair this with Bartleby’s Books (which has new titles) you’ll have yourself a very nice one-two bookhunting punch.
Atmosphere — Eclectic and unique to say the least, with rooms and rooms of books to browse through. It was a fun hour picking through the stacks for throwback diamonds in the rough.
Quality — The books were a mix of newish and out-of-print editions, leaning older but no to the point of detriment.
Quantity — More than I expected, especially considering the upstairs portion and the yurt.
Diversity — Pretty broad for a small town bookshop. You’ll find at least a little bit of everything, and plenty of mystery and history, along with records and CDs.
Affordability — We found some deals and left a few others on the shelf. It’s a mix, but if you find something rare that other shops won’t have, it’ll be worth it, right? Bring cash, as they didn’t take cards at the time. (Not a negative, just a heads up.)
Amenities — You’re a short walk up the block form cafes and restaurants.
Location — It’s just a couple of blocks away from the main intersection in Wilmington, halfway between Bennington and Brattleboro.
Customer Service — The woman guiding us around was very friendly and easy to talk to.
Overall — This was a unique experience in a kitchy, one-of-a-kind shop, and if you’re passing through the southern Vermont region it should be on your list.